Jim Clifton, chairman and chief executive officer of Gallup and author of "The Coming Jobs War," said gross national well-being -- people's life satisfaction -- occurs before gross domestic product, or the amount of goods and services produced in a country.
"Virtually all world leaders and heads of states and cities are focused on the wrong things. They are looking through the rear view mirror at GDP in an attempt to see the road ahead," Clifton said in a statement. "Consequently, they are managing their countries and cities after the fact. Because GDP follows gross national well-being, leaders need to understand what well-being tells us, the impact it has on constituencies, and most importantly, how to increase it."
Gallup classifies respondents' well-being as thriving, struggling or suffering, based on how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. People are considered thriving if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher and expectations for their lives in five years an 8 or higher, while those who rate their current or future lives a 4 or lower are classified as suffering. All others are considered "struggling."
Gallup has been asking well-being questions in more than 150 countries for the past seven years via its World Poll.
Gallup found worldwide those who have "good jobs" -- those who work for an employer for at least 30 hours per week -- are most likely to be thriving, those employed part-time and those who are unemployed are less likely to be thriving and the self-employed lag behind and are the least likely to be thriving.
As countries and cities make drastic cuts in government spending and services, they need to keep a close eye on the percentage of people who are suffering because that number is an indicator of potential extreme citizen discomfort and unrest -- even chaos -- Clifton wrote in an article in the Gallup Business Journal.